Chairman Ridley Gives Masters State Of The Union

Masters Chairman Fred Ridley tipped his hand without trying to during his annual news conference Wednesday when it came to the USGA and R&A proposal for a modified local rule rolling back the golf ball.

It would mean tournaments could choose to require a different ball, and use it to curtail distance, and it’s clear the U.S. Open and British Open will go along. It’s not a done deal, though, as the comment period goes through Augusta.

“Our position has always been that we support the governing bodies,” Ridley said of the Masters. “I think, in a general sense, we do support the proposal, but because it’s in the middle of a comment period, it could change. … So we will look at the final product and make a decision.

“We believe distance needs to be addressed,” Ridley added. “I think the natural conclusion is, yes, we will be supportive.”


Even as Augusta National said in December it would keep its criteria for invitations, which allowed LIV Golf players to get in, Ridley offered a reminder that the club looks at every aspect of the Masters and was open to changes.

The ones made this year were minor, though.

The Masters offered a special invitation to Gordon Sargent, the NCAA champion from Vanderbilt, and starting next year the college champion will be a permanent category. That means seven amateurs will be offered spots.

Everything else was roughly the same. The Masters added language similar to the U.S. Open that says those that qualify and are eligible for the Tour Championship will be offered invitations. Talor Gooch qualified for East Lake by being in the top 30 in FedEx Cup points, but he wasn’t eligible because the PGA Tour suspended him for joining LIV Golf.

The language also was tweaked on giving spots to winners of PGA Tour events offering full FedEx Cup points, only because starting in 2024 the tour is going away from a wraparound season. The short version: Players winning tournaments in the fall will still get into the Masters.